New Ride In The Stable

Back in 2011 I bought my first Harley Davidson motorcycle. Before that I’d never been a huge fan of Harley but there was always one bike that my eyes lingered on a bit longer when I saw it. That bike is the Road Glide. I picked up a 2007 and have really enjoyed riding it the last 3 years. Last year Harley announced there would be no 2014 model year for the Road Glide. I was more than a little pissed off until I found out the reasons behind it. They took the year to completely redesign the bike from the ground up.

I was just glad that the “ugliest bike in the world” was coming back but I had no intentions of upgrading. I read reviews and articles about the upgrades and it seemed like the bike was going to be awesome. But still no intention to buy one. That all changed about a month ago when I went to my local dealership and saw one in person. I went in on a Thursday after work and by Friday morning I’d made the decision to put money down for them to hold the bike for me. By 3pm on Saturday I was pulling out of the dealership on my new bike. I’ve got just over 1000 miles on it so far and to say that I’m pleased with it is an understatement. And now some pics!


Zombie Apocalypse

I’m a sucker for a good zombie or end of the world story. I’ve recently been picking up some of the cheap kindle books. They average $1-$2 so I’m not heartbroken if they suck. If you’re a fan of the zombie/end of the world genre check out The Purge of Babylon and The Gates of Byzantium by Sam Sisavath. And if you have Amazon Prime then you don’t have to even buy them since they’re free with Prime.

The characters are relatable and his writing style is descriptive enough that I can build the scenes in my head and kind of see what the characters are seeing. For me, it’s a fine line to walk between the author having just enough detail to do that and too much to overwhelm. There is a 3rd book in the works that should be released in the next few weeks. Check out his site for updates on that.

Home HiFi Stereo Dilemma, Solved!

I hardly ever do product reviews on my blog. Usually I’m just happy that whatever latest tech I bought works half as well as advertised. Well, I can honestly say that my new home stereo setup has not only met my expectations but completely exceeded them!

I’ve always wanted a multi room(zone) system. Something that I could listen to in the kitchen or my work room without blasting in the living room. Enter Sonos. I’ve been researching systems on and off for, literally, years. Nothing ever did exactly what I wanted it to do. There are a number of mult-zone home theater systems out there. But they all require running wires and then fiddling with the receiver to get the right rooms the right music.

Sonos simplifies that with their line of wireless speakers. I started out with one Play:1 and a bridge (you only need the speaker but it has to be connected to your home router. With the bridge I can move the speaker anywhere in my house and connect 31(!) other devices). The speaker itself is pretty hefty. It feels very solid and can be placed on a bookshelf or attached to the wall. All the Sonos devices use “SonosNet” which is an AES encrypted mesh network. Adding a device is really simple. You plug in the bridge, plug in the speaker and then open either the Android or Iphone app and click “Add Sonos Component” and then you push a button on the new device. That’s it.

Another great thing about the setup is the ability to put speakers in different rooms and control them independently or put them in “Party Mode” and play the same thing on every speaker. All the group control and volume controls are done from the Android App. You can also “pair” speakers to create a surround sound system through the app. There’s more info on that and how the Sonos software actually adjusts the sound to give surround sound. Here’s a screen shot of my two speakers and how I have them setup. In the kitchen I was listening to 12 Stones from my own mp3 collection while SiriusXM was playing in the living room.

I decided that I wanted to hear the Snoop Dog song that was playing on SiriusXM so I turned the Kitchen and Living Room into a single group aka “Party Mode”


And just like that I was doing my best Michael Bolton impression of Gin and Juice!

There are so many options you can pick from to stream music. I currently have SiriusXM Sat radio, iHeartRadio, Amazon Cloud Player, and my entire mp3 music collection which lives on a Synology NAS. The only downside is that in order to pick up my mp3’s I had to turn on the protocol that Windows uses for network shares but the NAS I have supports it so it was just checking a box to enable. I have ~50gb of music and it was indexed in a couple of minutes and available to play. Here’s a screenshot of what I see when I start the app. There are probably 40-50 other options to stream from.


I’m really, really happy with what I have so far. The plan is to add a Play:5 to the living room and move the Play:1 currently there into my bedroom (I didn’t mention that you can set alarms through the app and use the system as an alarm clock) and then get one more Play:1 for my work room and possibly an outdoor speaker if they come out with one. Now, if Sonos can integrate with ifttt like my home security system I will be in home automation heaven!

I Made This!

So it’s been a while since I posted anything here but in the last several months I’ve picked up a new hobby, Blacksmithing. I did a bit of metal work when I was in the SCA and I always really enjoyed it. I didn’t realize a the time how much I enjoyed to be honest. Since I own my home and have land I figured now was the perfect time to give it a whirl.

After purchasing all the necessary tools (and some non-necessary tools) the last couple of months have consisted of me failing to make anything remotely resembling useful. I would start out with a picture in my head and end up with something that was completely different and not useful at all. For those that don’t know me pretty well, I’m very hard on myself picking up new skills. I expect that when I see something in my head I should be able to make it exactly like that the first time. So needless to say it’s been quite frustrating but I know enough about myself now to push through those frustrations and just keep working to realize what I see in my mind.

Fast forward to this past weekend and I finally got off my ass and fired up the forge. I wanted to try and make a knife out of some bar stock I picked up at lowe’s a few months ago. I started out with what you see below:

bar stock


After heating it up and cutting out the rough design of what I wanted I ended up with this

rough cut

I then started forging the bevels of the blade. One thing I remember from the reading I’ve done is you want to hammer the point of the blade down which is kind of counter intuitive since I wanted the blade to be curved. But as you’re forging the bevels the blade will naturally curve. It was pretty cool to actually see that happen.

Once I had the rough blade shape I was going to just put it down and work on something else but I was so stoked at what I had that I found an old file and started refining the shape of the blade. Here is a shot of the blade after forging.

bevels foged


Now, I was actually pretty damn stoked by this point. I wasn’t completely happy with the shape but I knew I could clean it up a bit with some file/grinder work and since I don’t own a grinder yet, a file it is!

Here is a shot of it after a 30-45 min worth of hand filing.



And one more after filing



I literally grabbed the closest piece of steel I had so I’m not even sure if it will hold an edge at all but I’m planning on cleaning up the profile a bit more and then putting a handle on it. More importantly this gave me a huge kick in the ass to get back out there and forge. I was keeping the frustration in check, for the most part, but it was starting to get to me.

I’ve got a couple more blades roughed out and I’m using what I learned with the first one to make them even better. Again, this isn’t “knife quality” steel but for my use and as a learning exercise I think it will work.

I Hate

  • I hate that I now spend most of my free time searching for security systems and better ways to secure my house.
  • I hate that I have to spend money to protect the stuff that I bought with my money in my own house on my own land.
  • I hate that I cut short my day to get home before dark.
  • I hate that when I come into my house I’m wondering if there’s someone else in there.
  • I hate that I don’t want to replace what was stolen only to have it stolen again in a month or six.
  • I hate that I will spend another weekend setting up cameras to cover all angles of my property.
  • I hate that I can’t sleep with the windows open because any sound I hear outside sounds like someone walking around.
  • I hate that since the break in happened I wake up 2 to 3 times every night and have to go check the locks on the doors and windows before I can go back to sleep.
  • I hate that I can’t post where I’m at on Facebook. Not that I did it much in the past or that I don’t trust people on my friends list..But I’m worried that facebook will randomly change something and that info would be public.
  • But most of all I hate that I can’t seem to get past this.

A Quote

I haven’t posted any quotes in a while and this is one of my favorites.

An emotion is only an emotion.
It’s just a small part of your whole being.
You are much more than your emotion.
An emotion comes, stays for a while, and goes away, just like a storm.
If you’re aware of that, you won’t be afraid of your emotions.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

Also, if you haven’t checked out my photo site lately head on over. SmugMug pushed an update which is basically an entire redesign of the site. I’ve made some changes to it which I’m not sure I like, but it’s something different.

A Quick Test

I’m finally fed up with having to restart Firefox every day because it eats all the memory on my machines so I’m switching to Chrome full time. This is just a test of the WordPress addon.

Something Has Changed

I’ve written before about dealing with Depression and finally admitting to myself that I needed help. It took a while after all of that for something to actually make me want to get help. I realized that I didn’t want to feel like this anymore and because of the meds I had a glimpse into what could be.

Talk therapy in conjunction with medication has really done wonders for me. I started seeing a therapist at the end of February and was doing 2 sessions a week because I was motivated to find a balance in life and I knew that if I didn’t find that balance that I wouldn’t be able to keep going for much longer. Things had gotten that bad for me. I was reading an old post of mine and I described the way I felt at the time as a pit surrounded by 4 walls and ahead of me was a dark tunnel that I couldn’t see the end of no matter how long I walked. I’m starting to see the light at the end of that tunnel.

Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m magically cured or have a sunny outlook on things all the time. What it means is that while the negative thoughts are still there I now know how to deal with them, by using one of the tenants of Buddhism called mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and not worrying about things coming in the future. The best example I can give is one by Thich Nhat Hanh:

“While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, which means that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. At first glance, that might seem a little silly: why put so much stress on a simple thing? But that’s precisely the point. The fact that I am standing there and washing these bowls is a wondrous reality. I’m being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There’s no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves.”

It really does seem stupidly easy, doesn’t it? Try it. Try focusing on a single task that you’re doing. Focus on it but at the same time realize when your mind starts to wander to something else. Acknowledge that new thought and then re-focus on the task at hand. For me, this is a very difficult task because I’m so used to rushing through what I have to do to get to something that I enjoy doing. I was living my life kind of like Adam Sandler in the movie “Click”. Fast fowarding through all the mundane to get to the good. But when I didn’t have anything good to look forward to the depression took over.

Using mindfulness I now focus on what I’m doing at that moment and my mind does drift but I’m able to catch that wander, acknowledge it with no judgement (I tend to beat myself up quite a bit if I fail at something or don’t live up to my own expectations) using this method of non-judgemental acknowledgement I simply smile at the wandering thought and move back to the task at hand.

For those of you that know me you maybe thinking I’ve lost my mind. Maybe I have, or maybe I’ve become who I’m supposed to be.  I’ll write more on Buddhism later but I’ll wrap this up with another quote:

“Don’t try to use what you learn from Buddhism to become a Buddhist; use it to become a better person.” – The Dali Lama

A Quick Post

I’ve literally got 5 drafts saved as a follow up to my “Serious Post“. None of them feel right just yet. Maybe if I combine them all I’d have something…Anyway, this is just a quick update on how I’ve been feeling since then. In a word, Great. I’ve been going to therapy twice a week since the end of February and in that time I’ve really been able to use some Buddhist principles in my everyday life..Things make a lot more sense to me now.

I will write more later but with the new theme in place I wanted to get something out to let those who have been reading that I’m doing better.

New Theme

Trying something a bit different with the blog theme..Some things may be broken/missing as I get the kinks worked out.